Denmark failed to investigate racist attack against Iraqi family: UN
Denmark failed to investigate racist attack against Iraqi family: UN
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[JURIST] Danish authorities failed to examine possible racist motivations behind an attack on an Iraqi refugee family in Denmark in 2004, according to an opinion [doc] published by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website]. Iraqi-born Mahali Dawas, his wife and eight children were attacked in June 2004 in their home in Denmark by up to 35 Danish young people who beat Dawas and his son, damaged the home and shouted racist phrases at the family. While four of the youths were convicted in local court on charges of violence, vandalism and weapon possession, their sentences were light and the family did not receive payment. The family, who had refugee status in Denmark, then filed a civil lawsuit addressing the racist nature of the attack, but the High Court of Eastern Denmark [official website, in Danish] upheld a lower court decision denying that the attack was racially-motivated. According to CERD, Danish authorities violated the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [text] by failing to investigate a racist crime:

The Committee considers that the onus was on the State party to initiate an effective criminal investigation, instead of giving the petitioners the burden of proof in civil proceedings. The Committee recalls its jurisprudence, according to which when threats of violence are made, and especially when they are made in public and by a group, it is incumbent upon the State party to investigate with due diligence and expedition.

CERD recommended that Denmark pay the family for property damage and emotional distress and also reevaluate its policy for investigating and prosecuting racist crimes. Denmark has 90 days to respond to the CERD ruling.

Racial discrimination has been an ongoing issue in many countries. Last week, Statistics Canada [official website] reported that both the number and rate of police-reported hate crimes declined [JURIST report] in 2010 by 18 percent from the previous year. Significantly, the reported crimes stemming from race or ethnicity decreased by 20 percent while those motivated by religion decreased by 17 percent. More than half of all reported hate crimes, however, were found to be motivated by race. Also last week, a group of minorities in France filed a lawsuit alleging police searches are conducted on the basis of racial profiling [JURIST report], according to a statement made by their lawyers and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) [advocacy website]. The suit alleged that French police unfairly single out minority race individuals for searches and identification checks. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] supported a ban on affirmative action [JURIST report] by upholding a 1996 amendment to the California Constitution that bars preferential treatment for “any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”